Category Archives: Security

Cloud Computing Is Redefining Micro-Learning In Five Revolutionary Ways

Cloud Computing Is Redefining Micro-Learning In Five Revolutionary Ways

Cloud Computing Is Redefining Micro-Learning

One of the great aspects of cloud computing is that it is quantifiable. It takes a challenge and accounts for it in hard figures. If it is software, one rents it and pays for the time he or she spends on it. If it is education, particularly, students come to know the time they spend in a remote learning environment will come back to them in the form of a certificate or degree. There are different ways in which the ubiquity and easy accessibility of otherwise expensive resources and data has affected micro-learning. Here are five such ways, beginning with the most quantifiable revolution.

Expanding the scope of class

One intriguing remark from a professor appeared online, recently, to the effect that he now reaches a hundred thousand learners in a single session, via the Internet, whereas it would take him two and a half lifetimes (each lifetime a 100 years) to teach such a multitude in his typical four hundred-strong physical lecture hall. This shows that with just a few resources that micro-learning places one’s way, it would be easy to extend boundaries and meet new challenges. It only requires a computer with a video teleconferencing icon, a few saving programs and back up, to appear on some remote student’s desktop in a later podcast, if not live.

Virtualization

When it comes to integrating everything that education can have with Internet resources, one gets the end result: virtualization. Every arm of learning, be it science, humanities or IT gets cognizant with the web. This is why learners who, for one reason or another, cannot make it to a lecture can follow the notes of the day on their virtual platforms. It is this trend that is making the world a global village where one need not have a lot of money to attend Harvard or Cambridge. Rather, it is the interactive nature brought about by web connectivity that is required to bridge the gap between campus-based and e-learning models.

Failures, drop outs and the unqualified can now get fresh grades

Before the advent of economical resources like hardware and programs for learning, if one dropped out of college or high school, the decision marked the culmination of his/her school pursuits. The drop out would go on to wallow in the mire of frustration in a world that demands plain certificates to get white collar jobs. Now, micro-learning, with its minimalist hardware and software requirements has changed all that. One can get that elusive degree or a certificate courtesy of remote cloud education. In fact such academic certification could easily be stronger than that of a typical book worm, because all kinds of libraries are free online and in the right formats.

The digital revolution of referencing

One of the major breakthroughs of cloud in the education sector is that it has made history an everyday occurrence. If one wants to know what Ptolemy or Alexander the Great actually did in their days, they need not rummage libraries from one end of town to the other. Chances are that they would get nowhere near to the truth. However, the Internet is a free-for-all cloud that brings even rare manuscripts for research and referencing. Of course there are logging details that may cost a fee, but that may change as many digital files go to the public domain for everybody to view uncharged.

Micro-learning- the core of collaboration

The great aspect of micro-learning in cloud education is that it uses odds and ends of technology that meet somewhere with other technologies and synchronize. This unity leads to the sharing of resources and creating mutual initiatives where the users can learn from each other. They no longer have to rely solely on teachers to elaborate a point. They evolve concrete meanings of concepts from their virtual collaboration. Specific examples include research projects between students across the oceans, sharing on educational material on the social networks and doing a sketch, simultaneously, through tablet technology.

Those are some of the leaps that cloud computing through micro-learning has introduced into the sector. The above is just a drop in the ocean of what is to come in the better years of this tender century. There are education apps to explore as there is a new crop of graduates who will have never seen a classroom in their entire academic careers, to exploit.

By John Omwamba

 

 

 

A Flash View In The Building Of The Cloud

A Flash View In The Building Of The Cloud

How often did you want to share a picture, a favorite song, or even a movie with a friend but suddenly realized that you had deleted those files from your laptop and only had them on a backup hard drive at home? Probably not very often, but often enough for you to begin thinking fondly about the cloud. And now that the IT world is becoming more and more mobile, with smartphones, tablet PCs, and mini laptops, we are bound to see how more personal data will begin their cloud existence.

But what we call “the cloud” is not so different from the devices we have at home. The cloud is more powerful, has infinitely better Internet connectivity, and enough storage space to boggle any imagination. The image from The Matrix, with the farms of people being harvested for their BTUs is a much better comparison, except that here we have hard drives instead of humans. The hard drives are just as neatly stacked in storage pods and these pods fill “acres of farmland” in corporate and private offices.

They grow at an incremental rate in order to stay ahead of our needs and that is why it is so difficult to picture this growth. Google does a pretty good job of it with the ever-growing storage count that they show you on the left column as you log into your Gmail account, but the flooding in Thailand last year created the opportunity for us to have much better visual understanding of this growth.

The floods in Thailand created not only a huge humanitarian disaster but also drove the prices of hard drives through the roof because most manufacturers had built their plants there. That almost meant disaster for many small startup companies, but one of them, called Blackblaze, found an ingenious way to stay afloat.

They noticed that the prices for the 3 TB consumer hard drives had stayed relatively unchanged and that they could modify those hard drives and use them in their storage pods. However, even the consumer network was close to being depleted and Blackblaze’s new sources, Best Buy, Fry’s, and Costco set up a limit that only 2 HDDs could be bought by one person at a time. Yet, the company needed 50 TB more space every day so they reached out to their friends and family and asked them to buy as many drives as they could on their behalf.

So the guys from Blackblaze, their friends, and their families went out or online and bought as many hard drives as they could. One of the guys had his own “paper route” where he would drop by as many shops as he could, driving about 212 miles in total, and buying the 2 HDD allowed ration from every shop. An innovative friend of the company would order two hard drives on his behalf with his own credit card, wait until they were shipped, and then order another two with his wife’s credit card, having them shipped to their office.

Ultimately the company survived and actually thrived because of the effort that went into buying affordable storage space. Yet the most spectacular thing about their story becomes apparent when you start picturing a small army of people buying 3TB hard drives every day for days and days just to meet the demands of a small cloud storage company.

By Luchi Gabriel Manescu

Cloud Whitepaper: Choosing A Cloud Hosting Provider With Confidence

Cloud Whitepaper: Choosing A Cloud Hosting Provider With Confidence

Choosing A Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence

Introduction

Cloud computing is rapidly transforming the IT landscape, and the conversation around adopting cloud technology has progressed from “if” to “when .” Enterprises are showing strong interest in outsourced (“public”) cloud offerings that can help them reduce costs and increase business agility.  These cloud services offer enormous economic benefits but they also pose significant potential risks for enterprises that must safeguard corporate information assets while complying with a myriad of industry and government regulations.

Many cloud service providers can deliver the security that enterprises need and SSL (secure sockets layer) certificates are part of the solution. More specifically, SSL is the solution for securing data when it is in motion.  The goal of this white paper is to help enterprises make pragmatic decisions about where and when to use cloud solutions by outlining specific issues that enterprises should raise with hosting providers before selecting a vendor, and by highlighting the ways in which SSL from a trusted Certificate Authority (CA) can help enterprises conduct business in the cloud with confidence.

Cloud Computing:

For the enterprise, cloud services offer lower IT capital expenditures and operating costs, on-demand capacity with self-service provisioning, and pay-per-use pricing models for greater flexibility and agility.  The service provider, in turn, achieves exponentially greater economies of scale by providing a standardized set of computing resources to a large base of customers.  Many enterprise hosting providers are already well positioned in the market and have the core competencies (people, processes, technology) to deliver the promise of cloud computing to the enterprise.

Despite the clear economic benefits of using cloud services, concerns about security, compliance and data privacy have slowed enterprise adoption.  An IDC survey of IT executives reveals that security is the #1 challenge facing IT cloud  services. Gartner Research has identified seven specific areas of security risk  associated with enterprise cloud computing, and recommends that organizations address several key issues when selecting a cloud hosting provider:

• Access privileges – Cloud service providers should be able to demonstrate they enforce adequate hiring, oversight and access controls to enforce administrative delegation.

• Regulatory compliance – Enterprises are accountable for their own data even when it’s in a public cloud, and should ensure their providers are ready and willing to undergo audits.

• Data provenance – When selecting a provider, ask where their datacenters are located and if they can commit to specific privacy requirements.

• Data segregation – Most public clouds are shared environments, and it is critical to make sure hosting providers can guarantee complete data segregation for secure multi-tenancy.

• Data recovery – Enterprises must make sure their hosting provider has the ability to do a complete restoration in the event of a disaster.

• Monitoring and reporting – Monitoring and logging public cloud activity is hard to do, so enterprises should ask for proof that their hosting providers can support investigations.

• Business continuity – Businesses come and go, and enterprises should ask hard questions about the portability of their data to avoid lock-in or potential loss if  the business fails.

Read Full Report

 

Key Cloud Computing Trends In Each Of The Five Continents

Key Cloud Computing Trends In Each Of The Five Continents

Going by recent surveys in all the five continents, it is telling that bigger things are yet to come in cloud computing. While Europeans are taking an exacting, albeit generic approach to changes visiting upon the scene, the Americans are considering the capital side of the equation. While Asians are gnawing at the meat pie of reducing infrastructural expenditure, Africans are embracing startups and the state machineries are going into the sector with aplomb. The Australasia region, on the other hand, has posted one of the biggest stories in recent cloud times: the preference for supplier-driven working models with servers operating from the home country.
The following is a bipartisan approach to each of the above summaries for every continent. It will highlight the generic and specific cloud computing trends that are already or may one day give way to new business divides.

Europe

The continent is experiencing some of the biggest advances in cloud computing. Some analysts are even attributing the term as synonymous with the European continent. The specific examples include the mushrooming of various startups that are trying to make the capitals of the Eurozone a global village. Instead of entertaining thoughts of waiting for a plane to go from Berlin to Rome, for instance, one can communicate with the other business people in the hubs of the two cities. It is also plain that guides will no longer be necessary when one finds oneself alone in a foreign city: the tech hubs that organize meetings will help the attendants find hotels and other features unique to the city.

Generally, Europe has defined these trends for the year:

1. Embracing cloud computing by Information Technology staff as an inevitable profession.
2. Prominence of the independent cloud as the current model of preference.
3. The search for a permanent, unified model that combines independent, web-based and hybrid clouds is at peak point now.

Americas

The hub of cloud computing has always appeared to be a United States’ prerogative. Now, the federal administration has joined into the context with the following specific example. A poll that searched far and wide among the states, cities and other jurisdictions defined how the federal state is getting a grip in the sector. As the government leads much of its implementation work on the Internet, it is also seeking answers for the query of whether pay-as-you-earn, which entertains an installment-based payment for a service, helps to overcome operating expenditure. Even the state is enjoying using software and data centers not as capital but as almost free services.
Generically, the United States is climbing the ladder by being the most innovative in the niche. It accounts for groundbreaking achievements in app development, electronic production and research.

Asia

Despite being the source for many high-end electronics, the Asian region is keen on reducing the expenses that come in the way of cloud computing. Following multiple government clampdowns on Internet services in diverse countries in the continent, many are trying to find a way where they can operate safely. They need to find new grounds to enjoy their electronics while driving the operational scope of the cloud as a business. It also wants to cut down on network expenses.

In general terms, Asia is moving towards a cheaper economical model in cloud computing. It seeks to decrease Information Technology employees’ expenditure and infrastructural demands. Decisions in the industry are also being influenced by uncertainties in work increment or decrement.

Africa

Skimming through the African Internet, one is bound to glow with the ecstasy of expectations. Every site one visits is a tech scene both in content and the ads on the page. There are now specific companies, like Microsoft that are using their imprints to help startup businesses gain leverage. Similarly, governments across sub-Saharan Africa are increasing their grip on the sector to help their citizens stay updated on policies and general government functions. A perfect example is the reference indexes for Ugandans.

Businesses (SMEs and large corporations) are scaling their operations through the cloud. They are also trying to find sponsors who can help prop up new companies (startups).

Australia

The gains that the Australian region has made in the sector have made it the most enlightened society south of the equator in cloud computing. There is more preference in supplier-driven models than that of personal control of data. Meanwhile security remains top of the agenda in the sector.

Australia is embracing the private cloud at a rate of 20%. It is also ready for a more stable app development stage where the most important drivers are the developers themselves. All these trends point out a future lush with possibilities in all continents. From Europe to Asia and from the Americas to Africa and beyond, one can always find a trend worth following.

By John Omwamba

What Cloud Consumers Need To Look Out For In Cloud Contracts

What Cloud Consumers Need To Look Out For In Cloud Contracts

Many people think cloud computing contracts look out for service providers alone. There are different factors that fuel this attitude. Even then, many consumers still feel like they have no choice. Providers tell them what they can and cannot get. This development is negative for the industry. However, if you want to be a consumer for cloud products, the future is looking bright. With more providers on the market, competition will force some of these dominating companies to think twice. In the meantime, you need to look out for yourself when working on cloud computing contracts with amicable providers.

Ownership of data

Privacy is a critical topic in the cloud. You need to make sure that you still own all content and materials stored in the cloud. The contract needs to clearly assert you as owner for the data stored on another company’s servers. This includes all ownership rights—direct, indirect, and intellectual. This will not only protect you from all the dangers that cover infringements, but it will also serve as evidence in a court of law, were this be necessary. Negotiating a language that guarantees express ownership is the best approach to the contract.

Data disposition

It’s critical that your contract has a clear clause on what happens when you go separate ways. This means that your company avoids a lock-in when the contract ends. There are different approaches to make the provider agree to this. One is for you to get access to your information on an ongoing basis. This way you would have access to the data when the contract ends, but you can also make contingency plans for temporary, emergency, and critical access to data stored on their servers.

Data breaches

Hacking and other breaches are common in the cloud. They happen once in a while, depending on who your provider is. Sometimes, breaches can happen via your root. On many occasions, breaches happen through company’s internal systems. When breaches happen, who is responsible? Naturally, the contract should have a clear direction covering the service provider and consumer duties and responsibilities. It should also state clearly what are the consequences for breaching the terms of the contract.

Legal requests to access data

The cloud contract should also stipulate what happens in the event of a request for data stored from a court of law or government body. Because ownership is entirely in the consumer’s hands, one needs to ensure the right for full disclosure is provided, to stem arbitrary checks and privacy infringements.

Security

Many people wrongly assume that the cloud has no relation whatsoever with physical data centers and infrastructure. Consumers need to know what level of security is awarded to their data, so make sure security measures are clear when you sign the contract.

By Gregory Musungu

The One Lesson The Cloud Needs To Learn From Facebook

The One Lesson The Cloud Needs To Learn From Facebook

People, websites, talk shows, and even doctors discuss more about a Facebook epidemic than they are talking about an obesity epidemic. In fact, the massive amount of time that young people spend checking their status updates is not only the latest Hollywood fad, but also a reflection of the new level of online social interaction that Mark Zuckerberg has managed to create. You don’t need to be a psychology or sociology major to know how he managed to bring together so many people.

What he did was to use the magic behind the first two rules of Fight Club—1. You do not talk about Fight Club; 2. You do not talk about Fight Club—only that he took it one step further: 3. You could not be a part of Fight Club if you did not meet a set of requirements. In this case, it meant that you had to be going to one of the few collages that had access to the network.

It is a simple tactic of making something feel elitist and then slowly and gradually allowing the masses to get in. From there, creating games that take up so much time and setting up prizes that you can brag about to your friends was just the fruit of the latest technology that luckily ripened at the right time.

The cloud too is trying to associate itself with the elite, but they have chosen the big businesses. The cloud providers are trying to make themselves appealing to the small- and medium-sized offices. It is a good play in the sense that they have gone directly for the money; it took almost four years for Facebook to start displaying ads and thus bring in a positive cash flow.

However, most of us try to forget about work when we get home, so most people do not feel the same need to associate with the elite world of the cloud. In fact, a recent survey has shown that one in three people still thinks that the cloud has something to do with the actual clouds in the sky and 54 percent believe that they have never used the cloud although they use DropBox and have read Kindle books.

The truth is that the connection that has been created between the cloud and the tools needed in the business world is the single worst PR blooper that could have been made. Being useful may be a good way to sell in the corporate world, but it is also the best way to make sure that people will lose interest before they even get to finding out what the thing in question is useful to.

So the only way that the cloud can have a chance at a massive uptake is to begin proving that it is trivial and fun. We all love the fact that we can start reading a book on Kindle, sneak in a few pages at work on the desktop computer, and then keep reading it on a smartphone during the commute, but why isn’t anyone telling us how that is the best use for the cloud? We would pick it up from there and start developing our own ways of using the cloud, if only we knew that.

By Luchi Gabriel Manescu

Important IaaS Cloud Industry Platforms Worth Knowing

Important IaaS Cloud Industry Platforms Worth Knowing

Every now and then one often hears of a new terminology in the cloud platforms. As the industry grows by leaps and bounds, it is hardly necessary to expect nothing short of dramatic and innovative changes. In this wave of developments, the established companies bask in all the glory while the new fish in the pond try to surface to the ground. Still, the latter are providing an alternative platform that might be revolutionizing the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) scene by their open-ended technologies.

Before introducing the new giants in the field of IaaS that one may not be familiar with, it is important to give the perfect example of such a platform.

EC2

This is the quintessential platform in the IaaS circles, owned and partitioned by Amazon. It has many brainchildren in the industry that are specializing in any of its virtualization arms, such as, that of taking software as hardware to help feature two operating systems in one machine. However, its essence lies in making servers a cheap provision that companies need not count as part of their capital expenses. They only have to use the remote servers from the provider while keying in only the operational cost, not at a fixed fee but for as long as they use it. Talk about the wage system in the cloud infrastructure!

The other important but still obscure industry examples include the following three:

ENKI

It is a bet that many stakeholders in the industry may not be familiar with this provider of IaaS facilitation. It is a good ground for closeted organizations that want to begin their own independent datacenters that are both reliable and high-end. Just like many private cloud offerings, it has backup infrastructural provisions, which it does on a regular basis. It also comes with a definitive firewall that can safeguard a site’s activities against the outside world. Needless to say, it is as scalable as any other provision worthy of being a cloud offering.

Cloudscaling

This is not an unknown platform per se, but the fact is that it is more specialized in nature, attracting government bodies, organizations and other independent entities because it helps to make the cloud more open source. Its main goal is to offer a starting point for anybody who does not have resources for initiating their own personal cloud. Unlike before when IT departments had to search far and wide to look for a public provider, now they can effortlessly manage complicated software, hosting and safety models that their organizations demand using this infrastructure. This service is open-ended, and a good example of how to scale up an entity by remote means.

Savvis

Though the company of the above name has been in existence for long, offering a plethora of compute assistance, its cloud imprint called Savvis is a 2011 brainchild. Its main objective is to get e-commerce companies up and running and help them get way from enslavement to high capital Information Technology demands. With little money to run the show, users can help run their businesses, enhance utility and even come up with new applications within their cloud infrastructure.

There are a dozen more infrastructural platforms in the cloud computing sector but only a few of them provide IaaS whole-heartedly. The perfect example is GoGrid, whose dedication never wavers from the infrastructural part of things. The others usually combine their software, data and platform motifs with that of infrastructure. However, it is notable that now the computing world is all the better for it since there is a range of choices once the cloud bug hits an ambitious entity.

By John Omwamba

Get Off Of My Cloud

Get Off Of My Cloud

One of the main detractors of cloud computing for the uninitiated is security.  With so many individuals having access to a service provider’s cloud, can there be a solid guarantee for any user that their information is safe?  The top concerns when considering using a cloud service are: identity protection; privacy issues and data safeguards.

The concept of identity protection encompasses two issues: user authentication and information encryption.  When using a cloud computing service, the unique personal login information of every subscriber must be inaccessible to not only other subscribers, but also to intruders both inside and outside the provider’s company.  Successful cloud providers base their business on the protection of their tenants and invest heavily in software and hardware security measures.  Related to the user’s personal information (name, address etc.) is a user’s financial information.  Information on payment methods (credit, debit, Paypal etc.) must be encrypted and have the industry’s most stringent access methods available.

Tied to identity protection is privacy; ensuring that a cloud tenant has the ability to keep their presence and activity in the cloud hidden.  As well, depending on the country where the hosting servers reside, there must be protection of tenant information from access to information requests or e-discovery.  To ensure confidence, service providers must furnish an inaccessible, legally bound virtual vault for every user.  Customers must feel that their information is as safe in the cloud infrastructure as it might be on their own computing device.

What might be the most important aspect of cloud computing for any consumer is safeguarding data.  Like a client’s information, the data must be protected and even encrypted not only on the cloud servers, but also in transit both to and from the cloud.  Whatever the data, the information must be accessible anywhere at anytime.  Server uptime and data availability is a critical deciding factor in choosing a cloud server storage option.  Also, data backup or disaster recovery protocols must an integral component of the server infrastructure.  In case of a server failure, there needs to be a failover option so that users are totally unaware on the surface of the cloud that there are problems with the support structure.

So long as any cloud provider addresses the worries of identity protection, privacy issues and data safeguards, any client, be they a novice or a veteran cloud user, can trust their security needs are a guarantee.

By Robin Berry

CloudTweaks Comics
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